Hanson calls for pandemic royal commission

Colin Brinsden |

Pauline Hanson has called for a royal commission into how Australia’s governments have handled the COVID-19 pandemic.

The One Nation leader says whichever party forms government after this year’s federal election there should be an honest and thorough examination of how all governments – federal, state and territory – managed the crisis.

She says the pandemic has affected every Australian in some way with people dying, workers losing their jobs, individual rights and freedoms being restricted and unelected bureaucrats wielding “extraordinary power”.

“We need a royal commission, not to lay blame or find scapegoats – the buck will always stop with the prime minister and state and territory leaders, as it must in a representative democracy,” she said.

“But primarily to learn which pandemic measures worked and which didn’t so we are much better prepared for the next pandemic. Because as sure as the sun rises every day, there will inevitably be another pandemic. T

Senator Hanson’s call came after another grim day with 58 COVID-19 related deaths reported across the country on Sunday.

NSW added 20,324 new virus infections along with 34 virus-related deaths, while in Victoria the case load rose by a further 13,091, and there were 14 deaths.

In Queensland there were 11,947 cases and 10 deaths.

The nation’s two largest states laid out plans for the upcoming first week of school with rapid antigen tests playing a major role in their similar schemes – plans that Queensland doesn’t want a bar of.

As part of NSW’s long awaited back-to-school plan, teachers and pupils will get two rapid antigen tests per week when they return to classrooms.

The scheme will run for four weeks, covering the states 3000 primary and secondary schools. Early education and childcare centres will also be included.

Premier Dominic Perrottet says it’s the right decision for students to return to face-to-face learning amid the Omicron wave, confirming there would be no school closures.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced a similar strategy, saying 6.6 million RATs will be delivered to schools and early childhood centres across the state before primary and secondary students resume classes on January 31.

In all, 14 million RAT kits will be distributed during the state’s surveillance testing regime, which will be reviewed after four weeks.

However, Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath has ruled out following this plan, saying there was no national health advice to do so.

She said there were limited rapid test supplies in Queensland which were needed for critical essential workers such as in aged care and health.

Federal Labor’s health spokesman Mark Butler is more concerned that only one-in-four, five to 11-year-olds have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine just a week before school begins.

Meanwhile, South Australia recorded 2062 new COVID-19 cases, the ACT posted 694 and Western Australia 26, while in the Northern Territory there were 212 new infections.